Like many of my baby boomer generation -- raised in the civil rights and anti-war activism of the sixties -- I have had dark days of disbelief about hash tag activism. The notion that texting will establish economic justice seems farfetched to me.
Then, as if designed to unmoor my skepticism, the Arab Spring pops up -- a dynamic marriage of cyberspace communications and personal courage.
On the downside, there is cyber-bullying to consider. Romney's high school meanness can be easily amplified by Internet anonymity.
On the upside, factor in the online organizing which brilliantly elected America's first black president.
In the case of iOnPoverty, does a Facebook "like" carry the commitment equivalence of actually joining up, donating, doing something tangible? Not even a close call. But a "like" is sure as hell better than a dislike.
A Facebook "like" or a Twitter follower begins a conversation. In age of cynicism, it establishes community, albeit a loose and nascent one.
Rajasvini "Vini" Bhansali, the super-charged, super-smart CEO of the International Development Exchange (IDEX), recently talked with me on camera about community and coming out as a 19-year-old "queer woman like me."
Working through the isolation and derision of her family in India and her moments of self-hate was informed and supported by an online community. "I was very fortunate to find community online. I learned there were many more people like me. I wasn't alone," she recalls.
That's convincing enough for me.
Today, Vini is fighting the isolation which poverty creates. Her weapon of choice (her "deeply seated value," as she put it) is community-creating.
Vini is building communities of women around the world. Communities of Millennial activists in the United States. A culture of community inside the social enterprise she heads.
Millennials, take note: Want to change the world? Enlarge your reach and impact through collaboration. Want a successful career in economic justice work? Learn to work in teams. Want to increase your power? Learn to build coalitions.
"In community and in collective, we are more powerful," Vini says. Or, as the African proverb reminds us, "Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable."
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